Cocktail culture is thriving in large part due to a passionate contingent of exceptional bartenders and mixologists. This feature places a spotlight on the craftspeople behind the bar, and not just the structure itself. Meet Beau du Bois from Riot House Bar at Andaz West Hollywood.
Josh Lurie: Do you consider yourself a bartender or a mixologist? What’s the difference?
BDB: Any mixologist starts as a bartender. They are taught how to make/serve drinks by another bartender or the establishment they are working for. A bartender becomes a mixologist once they begin studying mixology. They learn about the history of classic cocktails, the many different cocktail techniques, what’s new in the cocktail world, and how to put their own signature on drink recipes. That being said, I would call myself a mixologist.
JL: How did you become interested in bartending?
BDB: Right place, right time. I was at a martini lounge in college just after I turned 21 and I overheard the owner talking about how he needed a bartender. I told him that I’d love to help out but had no experience bartending. They must have been desperate.
JL: What’s your first cocktail memory?
BDB: I remember a college professor trying to explain to me the proper ratio of whiskey to sour for her Whiskey Sour. She didn’t prefer much sour.
JL: What’s your current favorite spirit or liquor?
BDB: Hendrick’s Gin
JL: Which cocktail is past its prime?
BDB: The Lemon Drop
JL: What’s the cocktail of the future?
BDB: I’d love to see people calling for the classics again; Moscow Mule, Mint Julep, Singapore Sling, Side Car, etc.
JL: Describe one of your original cocktails. What’s it called and what was your approach?
BDB: The Steelo; Vodka, Elderflower Liqueur, grapefruit juice, shaken with muddled blueberries and strained into a martini glass with a splash of soda water.
I wanted a sweet but stiff drink using Elderflower and it’s perfect with grapefruit juice. The blueberries give it a very subtle, sweet taste and the soda water was used for to add effervescence and hangover prevention.
JL: Do you have a cocktail mentor, and what did they teach you?
BDB: The great thing about making drinks is the people you meet along the way. Everyone, from other bartenders/mixologists to the patrons, have had something to teach me about cocktails. Whether it’s been about spirit knowledge, how to “bruise,” or how to make the perfect G&T, it’s all been very valuable information.
JL: Outside of your bar, what’s your favorite bar in town and why?
BDB: I’m still looking for a favorite but The Edison has a great scene; great bartenders, excellent gin selection, overall hip environment.
JL: Who’s another bartender or mixologist you respect and why?
BDB: Dale DeGroff, sticks to the classics with his own touch. Long live the king.
JL: If you had a bar of your own, what would you call it?
BDB: Old Fashioned
JL: What’s the best simple cocktail for people to make at home, and what’s the recipe?
BDB: Let’s go with a Gin and Tonic, but not like what your grandma drinks. No offense, I’m sure she’s a lovely woman. Grab a 5-6oz glass, throw a couple slices of Cucumber and add a dash of Agave Syrup. Use a spoon or any blunt object to gently crush the Cucumber with the Agave Syrup. Add a shot of Hendrick’s Gin, or two, some ice and fill with tonic. Garnish with a couple thin Cucumber Wheels, stir, and enjoy. Just name it after your grandma so she’s not mad at me.